Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Toi Monet
This Traveler Experienced Her Own Funeral In South Korea, Here's What Happened
Sadly, the suicide rate in the Black community is at an all time high. Especially, among our kids.
But, did you know that South Korea has one of the world’s highest suicide rates as well? Teens and young adults in South Korea are among the highest demographic affected, so much so that most buildings and apartments no longer have balconies.
Traveler Toi Monet of Plano, Texas recently decided to visit the Asian country to do an in-depth comparison on her own. While she currently lives in Asia, she wanted to visit South Korea to see first-hand any similarities between Black America’s crisis and the one happening abroad. During her visit she was able to experience planning and carrying out her own funeral, an activity done in the country to help people heal from suicidal impulses.
We spoke with her via email to learn more about her trip and what she learned in the end.
Travel Noire: What inspired you to take this journey to South Korea?
Toi: I decided to visit South Korea to learn more about their mental health crisis. My visit specifically took place in July, coinciding with the celebration of Minority Mental Health Month in the United States. Though my intentions were to explore their culture, I desired to bring awareness about this taboo issue in the African American community. I knew that simply writing a blog about this subject might not catch anyone’s attention, but if I also had a fake funeral then maybe it would.
TN: Wha activities did you participate in to help aid your research?
Toi: I did all the standard research, including watching documentaries and reading articles. I then visited the infamous Mapo Bridge (nicknamed Suicide Bridge) and a healing center to have a near-death experience. On top of this, I completed a work exchange at a hostel so I had the opportunity to speak with numerous Koreans to see if my findings were valid or if media outlets were sensationalizing the issue.
TN: In the end, what did you find?
Toi: In South Korea, the mental health epidemic is mainly attributed to the competitive work and school environment, unforeseen economic difficulty, and immense social pressures. While in Black America this crisis–at least why we suffer more than other groups– is due primarily to racial discrimination coupled with imposed socio-economic hardship.
TN: How did this experience personally impact you?
Toi: Depression runs on both sides of my family, so it feels I was bound to struggle with this illness. I began contemplating my existence at an early age and if I was meant to be born. I have always tried to prove my worth to both myself and others by just accomplishing things: filming a video with the mayor of my city or becoming a Disney Dreamer. After being enclosed in a casket, I am less critical of myself and do not allow myself to fall victim to other people’s standards.
TN: Where can we find you online?